Charlie Hebdo massacre suspects 'were in same jihadist group' as man suspected of killing Paris policewoman

Man suspected of killing policewoman Clarissa Jean-Philippe is holding five hostages

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A suspect identified in the fatal shooting of a policewoman in Paris has been linked to the manhunt for the Charlie Hebdo massacre suspects, it has been reported.

The link has been identified as it emerged that a suspect in the killing is now reportedly holding at least five hostages, including women and children, at the kosher supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Read more about this breaking development here.

Two men with assault rifles shot at Officer Jean-Philippe, 27 and a street cleaner after their car was involved in a road accident in a southern suburb of Paris on Thursday. One of the gunmen fled from the scene.

Amedy Coulibaly, 32, is suspected of killing the policewoman before fleeing the scene was a member of the same jihadist group as the two suspects in the attack at weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, a police source was quoted as telling Reuters.

The man, wearing a bullet-proof vest and carrying an assault rifle and a handgun, fled in a Renault Clio from the scene after the attack and is still on the run.

The assailant believed to be behind the shooting in the Montrouge area knew Cherif and Said Kouachi, the brothers suspected of killing 10 journalists and two police officers in Wednesday's assault, the source was also quoted as saying.

French newsweekly L'Orbs claimed that Cherif and the assailant may have met in the notorious prison Fleury-Mérogis, south of Paris. Known for its overcrowding the two mens' sentences are believed to have crossed over between 2005 and 2006. 

The three men were allegedly all members of the same Paris jihadist cell that a decade ago sent young French volunteers to Iraq to fight US forces.

Cherif Kouachi served 18 months in prison for his role in the group.

The newsagency AFP also said a police source confirmed a link between the Kouachi brothers and the Montrouge shooting.

Details have also emerged that appear to show that Coulibaly, who has nine sisters and is believed to have lived in the Grigny area, may have met former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in July 2009, telling Le Parisien:  “I’m really pleased. I don’t know what I’ll say to him. I guess I’ll start with hello. Hopefully the president can help me get a job".

Read more: Suspects spotted in northern France
Female police officer killed in southern Paris

According to AFP, the French Interior Minister confirmed “important elements” had now been uncovered in the inquiry into the shooting, which took place a day after gunmen killed 12 at the Charlie Hebdo offices.

Police did not formally link that shooting and that at Charlie Hebdo but AFP now reports that a connection has been established between the suspect in the Montrouge attack and the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo shooting.

The Kouachi brothers are now reportedly holed up in a printing shop in the northern town of Dammartin-en-Goele and have taken a hostage.